The original Suikoden was released in 1996 for the Playstation One, gaining an array of mixed reviews. Now released as a Playstation One Classic, does Suikoden earn the $5.99 purchase price?
It sure does. To start things out, I’m going to be on the upper end spectrum of the reviews for this game and it deserves the score I will give it.
The story, like many a RPG back in the 90s, you are given the ability to choose the name of the main character, the default name is Tir. Tir belongs to the Mcdohl family, his father being one of the Five Great Imperial Generals who serve the emperor. While on a mission with your allies, your friend Ted uses a strange and powerful rune spell (more on that later) and Ted is taken to see the emperor’s sorcerer Windy.
Windy realizes that the rune is in fact the “Soul Eater” one of the 27 True Runes, she tries to steal the rune from Ted for her own power. Ted gives Tir the Soul Eater, also known as the Cursed Rune, and holds off the imperial forces while Tir and his family helpers escape. From here Tir ends up encountering the Liberation Army, a group of rebels who want to taken down the empier in place of a Republic. Things happen and Tir ends up becoming the leader of the Liberation Army and this sets the main stage for the rest of the game.
The gameplay is pretty standard, especially in the combat, even though it does have a few nice twists. Mainly the “Free Will” option allows the A.I to take over your team, which is a team of six, rather than the normal three or four that other games have. The A.I isn’t smart and usually just results in everyone doing a standard attack, which is fine because its mainly a tool to streamline the nonsense easy battles.
There are also “Unite” abilties which only certain characters can perform. For example Tir and his master Kai (if or when you recruit him) have a powerful unite attack called Master & Pupil attack which allows them to attack up to six enemies in their one turn, which can devastate an enemy attack in meer seconds, making the other characters useless in most nonesense battles.
Outside combat there are some very nice gameplay ideas that were great. First off, there’s the 108 Stars of Destiny. There are 108 people to recruit into the liberation army, each of which represents one of the stars. After obtaining your castle (which you can also name by the way), obtaining more and more people will change the castle itself. It will evolve with new walls, sections, and abilities.
Certain members are merchants will might give you an Inn, an Armory, a Blacksmith etc. Some people won’t join unless certain characters or a certain amount of characters are already recruited. There are also some who won’t join unless your level is high enough. The evolving castle system is pretty nice as its another natural form of progression and achievement, even if you don’t recruit outside needed story characters.
The weapon system is interesting as you use the same weapon throughout the game, “sharpening” it to make it more powerful. Sharpening ends up being very important as it seems to matter more than the character’s level. A high level character with low level weapon is not very strong and just makes the game harder.
Runes play an important role in Suikoden, acting as the magic system for the game. Runes can be attached or removed at special merchants, and allows for a varied combination of attacks for any given situation. There are also rune fragments that can be added to weapons to add elemental damage to character’s normal attacks.
Another interesting twist is the Rock Paper Scissors esque strategy elements. From time to time there will be army & one on one battles. Each of these, more the army than the individual battles have a Rock Paper Scissors type of gameplay. There will be three normal attacks, Charge, Bow & Magic, all a strength or weakness of the other, like Rock Paper Scissors! (Don’t worry that’s ending now). How powerful these attacks are, are based of groups of characters that group each other into threes.
Having just one person of a given set will yield a weak attack, while having all three will yield a stronger one (More incentive to recruit more people). On top of these, non combat recruits, such as merchants and even combat ones like Ninjas have unique jobs that fall under the “other” category. Ninjas can definitely succeed in knowing what the openents move will be, allowing the player to use its weakness. For example finding out that the enemy will use Magic, you know to use Bows and suffer no casualties. You can bribe the enemy and strengthen attacks as well.
The gameplay has some very unique twists and the graphics/audio hold up wel. The game being developed using 2d sprites have held up well over the course of 13 years. The audio is decent but nothing special.
Overall Suikoden is a great RPG. The varied and unique elements set it apart from other RPGs of its time, or even RPGs of this time. The gameplay is solid, a pretty good story, and a interesting world makes Suikoden a must have download for anyone who owns a Playstation 3 or Playstation Portable. With its low price tag and relatively low size (300MB) I wholly recommend Suikoden.